Why you should care
Because politics is the third rail of first dates.
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?” In light of the results of an exclusive OZY and SurveyMonkey poll showing how Donald Trump has changed Americans’ romantic lives, we reached out to a matchmaker, dating coach and author who has her own political divide at home.
Today’s been awesome. I got a good night’s sleep and I worked out. I have insomnia, and if you asked me on a different day you would get a shitty answer, but I got eight hours last night. Tonight I’m going to a charity event. I’m always out and about socializing and networking for business development or philanthropy. It’s part of living the brand and being really visible. Part of it is expanding my little black book, meeting new people so I can have them in the back of my mind if they’re single or might know someone who is.
In terms of my own due diligence in matchmaking, I will ask about politics. I need to find out about political persuasion. How vocal or active are you? I just want to make sure if it’s a deal-breaker or not and whether it’s something we need to figure out how to negotiate in terms of first-date conversation.
Most people will under-represent their ferocity. They will say they are more middle of the road or “Oh, I just don’t find that politics come up very much. And if it does, I don’t get upset about it.” They self-report, but they’re not always totally accurate. Most people now dance far away from that conversation on a first date because it’s awkward. It’s never been as awkward before.
“You’re a Republican. I’m a Democrat. OK, let’s just enjoy our sushi.” Nowadays, the bullet’s in the chamber. The gun’s loaded. If I were single and putting myself out there, I don’t know if I would even give a chance to someone waving a banner on the front lines of a Trump rally.
…No Fox News in the bedroom, no CNN at the breakfast table. Oh my gosh, I want to throw the remote at the TV so bad when I come in and he’s watching Fox News.
It’s gotten much more intense in the past two years. With some people it could even be potentially more important than religion. People are more open-minded and accepting of religious differences. “You’re Jewish. I’m Christian. We can raise our kids in a blended environment.” Those are compatible. But it’s a little harder for a blended political family.
I met my husband in a bar 17 years ago. We were probably both more middle of the road. He would be very socially progressive but fiscally conservative, so I could align a little more with that.
He and I agree about more than we disagree on, but the whole Trump-Clinton election had a way of highlighting and illuminating those areas of disagreement in a way that was almost caricatured. The solution was we just firmly put our heads in the sand. He was probably more successful at not talking about it than I was. I just can’t keep my mouth shut. He’s known about me for a long time. I would go to election night return parties or caucuses. I just always have been a little bit more activist since college.
Most of this political stuff really can be navigated. It can mean no Fox News in the bedroom, no CNN at the breakfast table. Oh my gosh, I want to throw the remote at the TV so bad when I come in and he’s watching Fox News.
This is not very mature of me, but I found myself testing our 15-year-old son to figure out whether he’s taking after mom or dad more on politics, feeling him out on a trip to school. I was so relieved to see he’s progressive-minded. I wasn’t trying to put him in the middle of us and triangulate or anything, but I needed to know where he falls on this. He’s old enough to be paying attention, or at least know all the grown-ups are losing their ever-loving minds about it. I need to make sure he goes to a nice progressive college.
At this point, a year since the election, I’ve just learned to let things go. I made a comment about Trump to my husband the other day as I was leaving, to which he replied: “He’s done some good things.”
My response was simply: “OK, goodbye.” So no big table-flipping showdown. It’s probably for the best.